Potential for conflict between solar projects and local communities can hold back economic growth and greenhouse gas emissions reduction

DENVER, Colorado (March 1, 2022)

Colorado is expected to deploy around nine gigawatts of renewables by Jan 1, 2030 in order to meet its energy goals. This ambitious rollout grants many local communities the opportunity to attract millions of dollars of investment, receive 20 or more years of tax and lease payments, provide local residents with job opportunities, and meet their own clean energy goals. 

However, with some of these projects expected to exceed 2,000 acres, those same communities face concerns from residents about photovoltaic solar’s local impact. “Most Colorado communities would like to attract clean energy but their land use plans and codes have not kept pace,” noted Jeremy Call, a partner at the community planning firm Logan Simpson. “There is a great need to align local government, electric utilities, and developers’ efforts.” 

To help local policy makers prepare for this opportunity, the Colorado Solar and Storage Association, in conjunction with Logan Simpson, released the study “Becoming Utility-Scale Solar Ready: Principles And Best Practices For Colorado’s Local Governments”. 

The document identifies five key principles local governments can follow when considering large scale solar development in their region. 

The principles include:

  1. Cultivate Awareness Ahead of Proposed Development
  2. Create A Collaborative, Problem Solving Partnership with Continuous Improvement and Learning
  3. Maximize Community Benefits and Desired Outcomes
  4. Reduce Impacts
  5. Align Agencies, Plans, and Regulations

The study applies each principle to common misconceptions and provides tools, partnerships, and opportunities for local governments to attract multi-million dollar investments of solar while also protecting the public interest.

For example, the second principle identifies the common misconception that large-scale solar facilities should be zoned like other traditional power plants. However, solar facilities do not generate the same pollution, noise, traffic, and smells that coal power plants do. Ensuring local communities understand the specifics of the technology is vital to good land use principles to promote job creation and environmental benefits such as clean air, reduction in greenhouse gas benefits, and habitat restoration.

“Colorado communities, especially those on the Eastern Plains, can expect increased interest from solar and storage developers.” said Mike Kruger, President and CEO of the Colorado Solar and Storage Association, “These principles will reduce friction between developers and the local community and ensure everyone benefits from these larger solar projects.”

For more information, please contact Mike Kruger, (202) 631-7439, mkruger@cossa.co

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COSSA is the state trade association representing nearly 250 solar and storage businesses in Colorado.  COSSA’s members provide solar and energy storage products and services to residential consumers, commercial businesses, utilities, and governmental entities throughout the state.